We rounded up a comprehensive guide to the best colognes for men because shopping for a fragrance can be tough—much less if you’re doing it online. But it’s one of our favorite grooming products because of the huge variety in sensation each fragrance summons—or the story each cologne tells, if you want to be a little grandiose. You can’t get much of a story from a skincare (and if you’re a sensitive skin type, you definitely don’t want to). But an eau de parfum can turn heads for the right reasons. It can build a positive association with a friend, a date, a total stranger.
The Best Cologne Shopping Guide
We try to test as wide a range of men’s cologne as possible, and to put together this guide, we sniffed and sprayed over the course of literal years. Maybe you’re shopping for your definitive, “signature” scent. That’s not something we get to do, which is a curse and a blessing, because we love helping others find the colognes that best represent them, in hopes that they get to attach memories to these smells.
So here are 25 of the best fragrances for men, in all kinds of categories; perhaps these will help guide you towards one or two of them, to make shopping (even if online) all less stressful. Some of them are new, some classic, but each should make a favorable impression for the every day and those special occasions. Read on for the 25 best colognes for men.
Whether you’re looking to freshen up your B.O. for cheap, splurge on a signature scent or simply settle on a cologne to match the season, your resident noses at GQ Recommends have a rundown on the best colognes for men available right now.
The Best Cologne to Start Your Day Right: Creed “Aventus”
Before decamping to Paris and pivoting to fragrance, Creed made its name as a tailoring operation in the London of the 1700s. So it’s fitting that the brand’s fragrances are formulated with cut-and-sew precision. A decade after its debut, Aventus remains Creed’s calling card. The fruity scent features top notes of pineapple, bergamot, and apple balanced by hints of birch, ambergris, and sandalwood—a strong, masculine combination that (much like a perfectly-cut suit) will help you stand up a little straighter and walk a little taller.
Roll your eyes all you want, but Le Labo’s signature scent has more than earned a place on this list. Santal 33 is a modern-day classic, and there’s little to gain from resisting its allure. If you dig its trademark blend of sandalwood and cedar don’t deprive your senses of the opportunity to enjoy it just because you’re not the first to cotton on to its appeal. Five other people in your friend group might already swear by it, but at least you’ll all smell incredible.
Leave it to the scent obsessives at Escentric to concoct their own miracle ingredients and then pass on the results to the eager masses. This one features vetiveryl acetate—a twist on vetiver oil that’s combined with acetic acid to strip away excess bitterness—accompanied by a welcome burst of lime and ginger. It’s an intense mix, but one that’ll leave you feeling revitalized and ready to take on the day after every spritz.
We wrote an entire Tom Ford fragrance roundup, but the truth is, they’re all pretty fabulous. (So much so that Mr. Ford actually named one “F*cking Fabulous”.) In a head-to-head race, though, Oud Wood might eke out the overall brand win, for its smokiness, spiciness, woodiness, and oudiness. These broody notes also makes it a frontrunner in the winter category, since it warms on contact, and for lack of better word, smells incredibly masculine. It really is an Alpha Male kind of scent, despite the industry skewing unisex of late. (Along those lines, I also know a few women who wear it for dates and rainy days alike.)
Since its debut over a decade ago, its intoxicating blend of incense, ginger, and citrus has converted thousands of customers year after year. Its marketing was next-level, sure, (think cinematic promos directed by Martin Scorsese and starring the late Gaspard Ulliel), but the scent itself more than deserves its legendary status. Pony up for a bottle of your own and suddenly all the commotion will make perfect sense. Congratulations: you’re officially a Bleu guy. Don’t screw it up for the rest of us.
Sometimes, fashion houses confuse consumers by releasing new versions of a classic and not changing the name. Dior Homme is one such case—the original is certainly great, but it’s this 2020 woody, musky, ambrous remix that might be one of the most universally appealing scents on the market. That’s to say, this eau de toilette is probably one you’ll smell on a few other people, since it’s such a crowd pleaser.
One decade-plus in the making, Angels Share takes its cues directly from the brand’s founder, Kilian Hennessy, perfumer extraordinaire and heir to the cognac empire that bears his surname. In other words, this the good stuff—housed in an appropriately handsome glass bottle and infused with the sweet scents of cinnamon, oak, and tonka bean.
If you already dig everything else in the brand’s repertoire try taking its signature scent out for a spin, too. This one tweaks a typically spicy aroma by infusing it with hints of plum and bergamot along with notes of creamy milk for a lighter—but no less potent—effect.
Eternity EDT is evergreen: sage, cedar, bergamot, and moss combine for an earthen and refreshing finish, and at a price that is friendly to the greens in your wallet. This is one of those scents that everyone recognizes, since it’s an easy pick as a signature scent, or as a gift for the cologne-curious.
If you have even a passing interest in perfumery, you know Francis Kurkdjian. He’s the nose behind Baccarat Rouge 540, easily the most hyped fragrance out right now, and he just took over at Dior. But this 1995 release is where it all started: it’s a slightly-sweet, definitely masculine banger. It’s nostalgic at this point, like you’re partying in the last years of the 20th century and never going to grow up.
Another remix on a classic, Polo Cologne Intense from Ralph Lauren is intensely grounding, thanks to a hearty patchouli base. It exudes the same calm you want from a weekend, whether it’s spent playing polo (…anyone?), escaping to the beach, or grilling bratwursts with the in-laws. Supported by crisp grapefruit and fresh sage, it smells like an invigorating, spirit-cleansing shower
The Best Cologne for the Guy Who’d Rather Be Outside: Aesop “Eidesis”
One of Aesop’s latest fragrances is yet another knockout, a spicy dry-woods scent that wears well year round, but unmistakably leans towards the colder half of the calendar. Black pepper, frankincense and sandalwood are the primary notes here, combining to form a sophisticated but approachable recipe.
You’re not the only one wondering what a “sport” scent is, and yet there’s an entire category of sport fragrances on the market. Typically, it’s a low-concentration eau de toilette or eau de cologne, offering high impact for shorter periods of time. At their best, they evoke some kind of outdoor activity, whether it’s boat racing, horse riding, or regular ol’ gym going. “Ocean” expands on the success Prada has experienced with its Luna Rossa line, infusing its best-selling sport scent with a telltale blast of sea
H24, Hermès’ first pillar men’s fragrance in over 15 years, would’ve been a landmark by any measure. As it turns out, it smells fantastic too. The crisp scent scooped a Grooming Award thanks to its fresh combination of clary sage, narcissus, and rosewood essence. It finishes with the distinct smell of metal, a flourish Hermès perfumer Christine Nagel attributes to sclarene, a synthetic molecule that evokes a “metal so polished it becomes sensual.” It’s still early enough to get in on the first H24 bandwagon, too, making this one your perennial signature scent.
Over the years, Maison Margiela has mastered the particular power scent has to evoke memories from years bygone. The latest fragrance from the legendary French luxury house scooped a well-earned shoutout in 2021’s Grooming Awards for its unorthodox combination of classic autumnal scents like cardamom and cedarwood with the distinct smell of…pencil shavings. The weirdest part? It works. In aggregate, the fragrance offers the kind of buoyant back-to-school energy you’ll want to bring with you year-round.
Few fragrance brands inspire the same type of reflexive aaah as the one founded by Frédéric Malle, the legendary Parisian perfumer. Portrait Of A Lady blends top notes of rose with blackcurrant, raspberry, and clove, underlined by a buzzy but heady mix of patchouli, sandalwood, and frankincense.
We want more men to wear florals, because floral notes take the edge off; they invite people in. Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s inviting L’Homme à la Rose marries two rose notes together, one Bulgarian and one French, with an amber-woody heart and resinous base. It’s as sexy as a woody or leather scent, but in a less obvious way: It doesn’t demand attention. Instead, it stokes curiosity. It’s flirtatious. We could all afford to try that approach—even if it’s platonic.
This one is for the romantic who also has a little fall fever: the moment summer ended, you pulled out the thick knits, have already topped your personal record for # of spiced drinks/day and are now looking for an autumn-friendly scent to get lost in. Halfeti is a little bit of a mystery in that its (seasonally appropriate) notes of cypress intermingling with sweet vanilla, rose and spicy saffron cause it to waver between a woody and aromatic profile. It’s neither a musk nor a sweet scent, it’s the gray area between those two—which is the perfect concoction for someone who sees potential when others see a possibility.
The Best Cologne for the Highly Specific Nose: Arquiste Misfit
Three of our all-time favorite scents are from Arquiste: Nanban for the darker months, Peau for lighter days, and this one, Misfit, for pretty much everything else. Without fail, every day with any of these scents gets compliments and garners a new customer for the brand. And Misfit could be your new signature scent that is worn by nobody else in the office: It’s got patchouli base notes lightened by lavender and bergamot, and anchored by balsam and tonka bean.
Krigler makes some real top-shelf perfume for men. That’s because many of its launches are parfums, some of the highest concentrations of perfume oils you can get. (Hence the price tag.) Thus, a little goes a long way with any Krigler scent. Sylt Style is an ode to the Germans’ favorite island destination, Sylt. Perfumer Ben Krigler originally thought his primary demo for this one would be women, but it has become a runaway success with male consumers, thanks to rapturous blend of cashmere, almond, pink pepper, vanilla, moss, and amber; all together, it smells like a luxury vacation. There’s a reason you won’t find Krigler at a department store, and it’s the same reason it runs laps around the (lack of) competition.
A couple of years ago, Gunna—the fur-fitted Archduke of Atlanta himself—described Byredo’s Mojave Ghost as a “nosecatcher” of a scent, soft and just light enough. We concur. Top notes of ambrette and Jamaican nesberry (helped along by a base of chantilly musk, crisp amber, and cedarwood) will help you smell your chart-topping best.
Cultus Artem specializes in small-batch fragrances that promise the highest level of haute perfumery with every spritz. Ilex skillfully merges smoky topnotes with floral hints of jasmin, a complex blend that smells like a revelation.
The fragrance experts at Heretic are behind some of the best under-the-radar scents in the business. Smudge is an unabashedly sexy cologne that incorporates ingredients like labdanum, styrax, sichuan, and patchouli to fantastic effect.
19-69’s whole premise centers around capturing the distinct smells of a specific time and place, in this case the West Coast of eras bygone. With warm notes of bergamot, bourbon, and vetiver, the Swedish brand’s Rainbow Bar cologne is the fastest way to add a little dose of California livin’ to your daily routine—without booking a flight or building a time machine.